Go Wild with Wildcard Photographic Activity Day


Go behind the scenes at Hamerton Zoo to capture images of big cats and other wildlife that the public can’t get on this practical photography day. Scroll down for more info…




Go Wild with Wildcard Photographic Activity Day

Venue:   Hamerton Zoo, near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

Price:   £95


Wildlife photography is one of the most challenging and rewarding genres of photography but most of us haven’t got the time, patience or indeed resources to be able to spend weeks tracking down animals all over the world and waiting for the right moment to get the shots you want. Consequently, many people visit the various zoos and wildlife parks nearer to home to take pictures of captive animals but are often thwarted by being too far away or having wire fences in the way. Therefore images taken at zoos are often disappointing.

On this photographic activity day, we will have special access to go where the public is not allowed. Led by one of the park’s Keepers we will have two sessions ‘behind the fence’ that normally keeps the public away from the enclosures. Hamerton has some fabulous natural looking enclosures for its big cats (notably Cheetah and Tigers), many of which are not visible to the public at all.

We will therefore be able to observe and photograph these majestic animals at much closer range than usual and without one set of barriers in front of us. Of course, for safety reasons there is still a wire mesh fence but we will be able to get right up to it and the Wildcard team will be on hand to show you techniques that will ensure your images look like they could have been taken in the wild.

Members of the public are not allowed past this first fence but we will be guided by the keepers between the enclosures and therefore able to get right up to the wire fence to get some stunning images that you cannot normally obtain.




Here’s a typical shot taken from the public areas:




Compare that with the images in the gallery at the top of this page, which were all taken on a previous Go Wild with Wildcard day. Quite a difference we’re sure you’ll agree!



The anticipated running order for the day is as set out below but do bear in mind that the exact timings are subject to change on the day depending on weather, animal welfare and the Keeper’s schedule.

10.00am Park Opens.

10.15am Meet at the Education Cabin.

This will be our base for the day and we can leave spare clothing and equipment there while we are out taking photos (we will lock the cabin). We will carry out introductions and explain further how the day will operate. We will present a short discussion on techniques and suggested equipment settings for those that would like guidance in these matters. For those that are more comfortable with the techniques required you are free to explore the public areas of the park prior to our first photo session. Use this time to set up and test equipment and techniques so that you can spend more time shooting rather than button pushing during the special access sessions.

11.30am Special Access Photo Session 1.

We will meet our assigned keeper who will give a safety briefing and then lead us to the behind the scenes areas for our first photo session. This session may typically include the Cheetah and Corsac Foxes enclosures. We will be shooting alongside you so we will be able to share appropriate settings and maybe even equipment (Canon users have an advantage here!) We will also move between you giving guidance as necessary but by all means if you are comfortable with the techniques required you can just get on and shoot. The keepers will coax the animals into appropriate positions for us to photograph using some tasty treats and a variety of images will be possible.

12.45pm Break for Lunch.

You are free to purchase lunch from the cafe which has indoor and covered outdoor seating. Alternatively, you may bring a packed lunch to eat outside or in the Education Cabin where we will be available to discuss further the techniques used, review images, etc. If you have spare time after lunch, you can go off into the public areas to practice ready for the next special access photo session.

14.00pm Special Access Photo Session 2.

As before but this session will typically include Tigers and others animals such as Maned Wolves.

15.15pm Public Areas Photo Session.

After our special access sessions you will have the opportunity to explore the rest of the public areas of the park either individually or as a guided group where we will look for other subjects from the many species at the park. The focus of this session will be to identify subjects, situations and appropriate camera equipment and settings that will give you the best images when visiting other zoos where you won’t have the special access that we enjoyed earlier in the day.

16.30pm Farewells.

Meet at the cabin (optional) for any last questions and answers and to say our farewells. The park closes at 17.30pm.

Please note that the species encountered during the day are subject to availability, although every effort will be made to keep to the anticipated running order and species mentioned. In the unlikely event that exceptionally poor weather means that we have to forgo the special access sessions we will be able to photograph a variety of small animals within the Education Cabin with the guidance of the Keeper. We will however endeavour to stick to the anticipated schedule regardless of weather so please bring a plastic bag or proprietary rain cover to keep your equipment dry. A large part of the zoo has covered walkways so we will still be able to photograph many species although in poor weather some will understandably take shelter and will be harder to spot.

The fee includes standard entry to the park, two ‘special access’ photo sessions with a park Keeper and guidance from the Wildcard Photography tutors to ensure that you get the best possible images from the day. Refreshments are not included but you are free to bring your own or purchase from the on site cafe. Please note that you will be asked to sign indemnity forms for both Hamerton and Wildcard before accessing the non-public areas.

Pretty much any camera is suitable for this day although DSLR’s are likely to provide the best results. A variety of subject distances will be encountered so a standard zoom and a telephoto zoom would be advantageous. You should not need anything longer than 200mm and in most cases a much shorter lens is perfectly adequate as the animals will come to us! Those with limited photographic experience are welcome but as there is no formal tuition on this activity day we would recommend completing Part 1 of our DSLR Photography Course in order to get the most out of the day. If you have any concerns regarding equipment or experience please contact us prior to booking.




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